The Burel Group of Brittany has been considering developments within the agricultural machinery trade and has taken the bold decision to consolidate its three main brands into one unified image.
The importance of maintaining a brand is not lost on successful companies and quietly removing three well-respected names from the machinery scene and replacing it with one single name is a process that needs to be handled with great care.
Burel family still in charge
Sulky is a name that was introduced in 1936 and the company is now run by Julien Burel, who is the third generation of the family to take the kidneys and kidneys being the appropriate word here as the company started as a blacksmiths before producing horse drawn implements .
Today, the range includes trailed and mounted fertiliser spreaders, seed drills, and products for soil preparation and care, and it is these three main groups of machines which are now to be sold under the brand name ‘Sky Agriculture’.
Gone are the old names of Sulky and Prolog and all have been gathered under the Sky umbrella. The word ‘sky’ is an abbreviation of SulKY, and matching it with the word ‘agriculture’ indicates that the company is, as the company notes, devoted to serving farming.
Why it felt that this was the way forward has much to do with the emerging structure of tractor dealerships as the major manufacturers encourage the consolidation of their distribution networks into a smaller number of multi-depot franchises.
Discount in dealerships
In France, John Deere has cut the number of dealers from 120 to just 20 since 2000, while Massey Ferguson has brought its outlets down to 110 from 180 over the same timespan.
Tractor manufacturers justify these declines by noting that fewer, but more complex tractors are being sold, which need a different form of support as mechanical reliability increases and more digital technology is brought on board.
The need for that support is also starting to extend beyond the machine itself as tractors become a node in a digital network of data management ‘solutions’ which are geared towards driving farm efficiency.
This is the theory anyway, and it should also be noted that digital technology is a major profit point for the manufacturers as they never tire of reminding their shareholders.
Burel group joins the trend
Fewer, but larger outlets which can be run more along corporate lines, often degrading the relationship between the dealer principle and the customer in doing so, are an attractive option as the tractor makers will have more control over them.
Whatever way you may view this brave new world, the inescapable fact is that it is happening and implement manufacturers have to be prepared to deal with the new landscape.
One of the key features that the Burel Group identified as being essential to selling its products in the future was to be able to present a unified front to its dealers, rather than have three different reps turn up from three different companies, as was the situation before it began its own consolidation.
With this latest move a dealer will have one point of contact for the whole range of machines and the dealer will only have the one brand to sell and promote, that brand being Sky Agriculture with the its eagle head logo.
Approval at all levels
Smaller dealers should not be effected and Sky Agriculture reports a strong level of approval amongst the independents, for they will benefit from having a wider range of competent machinery being available in the one yard without the myriad number of machinery companies competing for space and attention.
Presently, the company is transforming itself to the new brand at a steady pace; it is not a question of waking up to find the name Sulky completely gone. Depending on the market some machines are still being finished in the well-known pale blue, while most are now despatched in the graphite gray and titanium white of the new brand livery.
Shortly, all machines will be arriving at the dealers in the new colors and the whole sales and marketing side should be working as one.